Not taking a childbirth class can find you unprepared on labor day, which could be worse than giving up a couple hours or a weekend of your time. A condensed childbirth class may be perfect for you and your busy baby-to-be.
Does the thought of attending a six-, eight- or even 12-week childbirth class make you cringe? You're not alone. Long, weekly classes used to be the only option for expectant parents — lucky for (busy) you, that's not the case any longer.
Believe me, I get it. Sure, you can read a book or talk to your new mom friends — yet nothing replaces comprehensive childbirth education, even if it's in small doses. You don't want to show up on labor day without a clue about what the heck is going on with your body during labor and how to cope with contractions or anything else that may come up during such an unpredictable, life-changing time.
"Marathon" classes — typically held over one or two days during a weekend — are popular offerings at many hospitals. Pros of weekend classes include only needing to clear one or two days from your busy schedule and getting a lot of information at once. While condensed classes eliminate the after-work exhaustion many moms-to-be feel on weeknights, they usually include even longer stints sitting in a classroom than during the week, and all that information can lead to overload — you may have a harder time retaining what you learned. Birth educator Sharon Muza, CD(DONA), LCCE, FACCE says, "Condensed classes also do not offer students a chance to build community with other class members."
Maybe building community isn't as important as squeezing in some childbirth education in between business trips. Nearly 100 percent of the childbirth classes I teach are private — I bring everything to parents' homes. When you take a private class, it's held during a time that's convenient for you and your partner, and you don't even need to leave your house. Still too busy for childbirth classes?
There may be small, shorter session classes offered at a nearby maternity center/retail outlet or place of worship. Less people means more time to focus on learning without taking up a ton of time. If you're planning to birth at home or a birth center, these classes may be particularly helpful. "Rich discussions can take place about the information and options available amongst the different situations," says Muza.
Online classes can supplement in-person learning at your local hospital or independent class. If you're extra busy you may be able to find a childbirth educator who teaches via video chat whether she lives nearby or not. I've taught couples who live hundreds of miles away from me. If you can find a couple hours to surf the web reading celebrity gossip you can make time for childbirth classes!
Bottom line? No matter where you decide to take a childbirth class — whether it lasts six weeks or six hours — what's important is that you educate yourself about the many options available to you during labor and birth so that you can make informed decisions when the big day arrives.
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